Simple Baked Salmon Fajitas that Everyone Will Love
I am spoiled. All Alaskans are. We fill our freezers every summer with wild caught salmon, so I am constantly trying to find new ways to cook it. My latest favorite is Simple Baked Salmon Fajitas. It is a great weeknight meal because it’s fast, yummy, versatile, and healthy. What else could you ask for? It can be paleo, Whole30, grain-free, gluten-free, or you can serve it with tortillas and make your dinner guests who aren’t on the ancestral bandwagon happy.
Before we get to this amazing Simple Baked Salmon recipe, let me tell you a little bit about what salmon “fishing” is like in good old Alaska.
This is gonna blow your mind!
Salmon “Fishing” in Alaska
Unlike many Alaskans, I do not particularly enjoy salmon fishing (am I allowed to say that?) Sorry, I just don’t. Typically, salmon fishing entails standing shoulder to shoulder in the river with hordes of people and hoping your hook finds the mouth of a salmon.
Most years, we get our salmon from dip netting for red (or sockeye) salmon. This fills our freezer so we can have things like Simple Baked Salmon Fajitas for dinner on a regular basis.
Only Alaska residents are allowed to dip net, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like. You put a giant net in the river and scoop up fish. There is not much “sport” excitement and the river gets nuts with all the people, boats, and giant nets. But it is the best way to fill up the freezer. If the mental image is still escaping you, check out this NY Times article about it.
Silver Salmon Fishing, With Some Excitement
This part is exciting!
If you aren’t just trying to feed a family, I recommend flying a floatplane into a remote river and fishing for silver salmon. I prefer this method because the silvers will strike your streamer (basically colorful yarn on a hook), and once hooked, they put up a fight. The flight in will also be beautiful all by itself. Last time I fished for silvers, I was pregnant with my first son. My dad and two long-time family friends (both named Keith), flew up to Alaska for an amazing week of fly-in Ptarmigan hunting and salmon fishing.
You typically must book guided trips a long way in advance, and when we booked this trip I was not pregnant. By the time the trip came around, however, I was very pregnant. I was worried our guide, Bob, would not let me tag along on the trips. Luckily for me, Bob happened to also be an ER doctor and was game to have me along.
It wasn’t easy hiking around the mountains and tundra pregnant, but I figured it was better than sitting in the lodge all day.
Squeezing into Waders
For whatever reason, both times I have been pregnant, I have decided to go fly fishing at 36 weeks pregnant, exactly. Also, luckily for me, waders are designed for overweight old men. I have not been so lucky with hunting clothes. My belly got a little scratched up while we stomped through the brush.
This is when I was pregnant with my second son. You can’t tell how huge I am in this photo, but trust me I was.
Why Give Simple Baked Salmon Fajitas a Try
I think we can all agree Salmon is good for you. Hopefully, I don’t have to convince you to try Simple Baked Salmon Fajitas. Salmon is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your brain, blood vessels, and they decrease inflammation and astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, that give salmon the beautiful pink color.
Omega-3s are also great for your skin. On the Opens Sky Fitness Podcast Episode #142, Dr. Trevor Cates talks about the benefits consuming salmon have for your skin, and that skin health is the “magic mirror” to help you get a visual picture of your overall health! If you want to know more about Omega-3s check out this article by the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Like any other meat, source is important, but not everyone can scoop salmon out of the river on the weekend. According to this Washington State Department of Health article, farmed salmon may be a better choice than no salmon if wild salmon is unavailable to you.
All of that being said, here’s my recipe for Simple Baked Salmon Fajitas.
|Prep Time||15 minutes|
|Cook Time||30-40 minutes|
- 1 teaspoon Chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Cumin ground
- 1/2 teaspoon Coconut sugar optional
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne or chipotle powder
- 2 Bell peppers sliced
- 1 Onion sliced
- 2 fillets Salmon 2-6 ounces
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- Optional Garnish Garnish with Lime Cilantro Jalapenos Cotija or queso fresco (if you eat dairy) Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (if you eat dairy)
- Place sheet pan in the oven to preheat at 425° F.
- While oven is preheating, mix together the spice mix. The coconut sugar is optional.
- Coat onions and peppers in oil and 1-2 teaspoon spice mix.
- Place on baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables have started to brown on the edges.
- Take pan out of the oven. Turn the oven down to 300° F.
- Place salmon fillets on pan. Sprinkle each with about ½ teaspoon seasoning each.
- Bake all together for about 15 minutes more, until salmon just flakes with a fork.
- Serving options: Flour or corn tortillas-if you eat grains Cassava tortillas- if you are grain free Rice- if that is part of your diet Over a bed of greens- for a simple salad
- Garnish with Lime Cilantro Jalapenos Cotija or queso fresco (if you eat dairy) Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (if you eat dairy)
Pulling Pin Bones
I recommend pulling the pin bones from your salmon fillets before cooking. This is especially important if you are feeding kids. When I’m only cooking for my husband and me, sometimes I skip this step. If you don’t pull the pin bones, you must chew carefully to make sure you don’t swallow a bone.
To pull out the pin bones you need a pair of tweezers. Run your finger along the midline of the fillet. When you find a bone, pull it out with your tweezers. Different parts of the fish have different numbers of bones. If your fillet comes from closer to the tail, you will find fewer bones. Use your finger to double check for more bones when you think you have them all.
How to Make
1. Place sheet pan in the oven to preheat at 425° F. I like these sheet pans. They are half sheet pans and I use them all the time. They may be larger than the pans you may already own, but I find them to be super useful. It is worth the investment to buy a couple nicer pans because they are thicker which prevents warping when they get hot. They are a great size for baking cookies or making Sheet Pan Suppers. I also have two silicon mats that fit my pans. I like silicon mats because they super nonstick and make clean up a breeze.
2. While oven is preheating, mix together the spice mix. The coconut sugar is optional, but only adds a couple grams of carbs total, in the whole meal. To me, it’s worth it because it helps balance all the flavors. If it isn’t worth it to you, leave it out.
3. Coat onions and peppers in oil and 1-2 teaspoon of spice mix. I use avocado oil because it has a high smoke point. Using expensive Extra-virgin olive oil would be kind of a waste because the high heat will destroy the delicate flavor and you wouldn’t taste it anyway. Vegetable oils, such as canola, are characteristically oxidize and promote inflammation in your body.
4. Place veggies on the baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes, until they have started to brown on the edges. Pre-heating the pan will help brown the bottom and decrease the cooking time.
5. Take pan out of the oven. Turn the oven down to 300° F. Salmon likes gentle cooking. Studies have shown that high temperatures can degrade the astaxanthin (a good antioxidant) in the fish.
6. Place salmon fillets on pan. Sprinkle each with about ½ teaspoon seasoning. Feel free not to measure the spice mix. Trust yourself.
7. Bake all together for about 15 minutes more, until salmon just flakes with a fork. Don’t be afraid to undercook the salmon a little. It will continue to cook slightly after you take it out of the oven. Also, slightly undercooked salmon is way more enjoyable than overcooked, dried out salmon.
8. Serve with:
Flour or corn tortillas-if you eat grains
Cassava tortillas- if you’re grain free
Rice- if that is part of your diet
Over a bed of greens- for a simple salad
Serve your fajitas in the way that makes sense to you. Honestly, this meal would taste good cold, the next day, as a salad for lunch. One thing I love about this meal is how flexible it is. You could offer a couple different options if you are cooking for a crowd. It would be a fun build-your-own meal for entertaining.
If you are cooking for a crowd, make your life easy. Cute the veggies ahead of time - even the day before. The spice mix can be made in advance also (and any leftover can be saved for something else. Store in an airtight container).
9. Garnish with lime, cilantro, jalapenos, cotija or queso fresco and/or sour cream/Greek yogurt. I am a huge fan of garnishing. It really elevates the dish with little effort or skill. I try to always add something with color, usually a fresh herb or green onion. Next, I add something acidic to brighten up the dish. With this dish I like lime. If the dish needs some more texture I will add something crunchy.Salmon fajitas typically already have a variety of textures, so I don’t usually add nuts or anything (Not that this should stop you!). Lastly, I finish with a sprinkling of salt. If you have a nice flaky salt it will add some crunch. Sometimes I also use finely ground Himalayan salt, which doesn’t add texture, but really brings out the flavor.
Gina Ciolkosz is a Personal Cook and Health Coach living in Anchorage, Alaska. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Physiology and is an American Council on Exercise certified Health Coach. For the past six years, she has lived in Alaska, where she can’t get enough of the active Alaskan lifestyle that for her includes hunting, fishing, hiking, and the occasional weekend race. She loves to cook for people and enjoys the challenge of making healthy food taste delicious. Open Sky Fitness Podcast was the first podcast she came across, which helped her realize she wanted to work in the health and wellness industry.
Check her out at Wild and Well Fed and follow her on Instagram
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